U.S. Navy Gets Funding Boost with Two-Year Budget
The U.S. Navy is about to get a big funding boost, courtesy of a $1.4 trillion, two-year defense spending package passed by Congress early on Friday. The plan is part of the broader FY2018 budget, which also includes a substantial increase in domestic spending.
The two-year budget funds the Defense Department's base budget at $629 billion in FY2018 and $647 billion in 2019 - numbers that are well in excess of the congressionally mandated limits known as "sequestration," which would have capped the budget at $549 billion and $562 billion over the same period. In addition, the supplemental "Overseas Contingency Operations" funding for counterterror deployments in the Middle East will remain the same, bringing the annual defense totals to $700 billion and $716 billion. Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that he was “very happy with $700 for this year, and $716 for next.”
Congress enacted the "sequestration" caps in 2011 as a way to enforce fiscal discipline, and they took effect in early 2013. The so-called budget sequester limited growth in military spending and gradually cut into the defense budget over the intervening period. The Navy has long warned that it reduces readiness, increases maintenance backlogs and puts more strain on front-line units. Many analysts and officials have pointed to underfunding as an underlying cause of the high workload and limited training time for sailors at 7th Fleet - two key factors in the deadly collisions involving Navy destroyers last year.
The details of the spending package have not yet been announced, but the top-line number approximately matches the House's budget for the Pentagon for FY2018 in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense budget. As a first step towards a 355-ship Navy, this year's NDAA includes funding for five additional warships (over and above previously planned procurements), including one Arleigh Burke class destroyer, two Littoral Combat Ships, one San Antonio class amphib and a Puller class expeditionary support base.